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Tensions Rise Over Maori Seats Issue

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Tau Henare
Tau Henare

Wellington, Aug 25 NZPA - Tensions between National and ACT were evident today, with National's Tau Henare resorting to name calling against Local Government Minister Rodney Hide over the ACT leader's threat to quit if Maori seats were included on the Auckland super council.

Cabinet yesterday reaffirmed the decision it made in April not to have reserved seats, going against strong representations from the Maori Party and other Maori organisations.

Mr Henare said he was "disappointed" but Cabinet had made the decision and it was the end of the matter as far as he was concerned.

He said he would not have voted against his party in a conscience vote over the Maori seat issue, as called for by Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples but since ruled out by Prime Minister John Key.

When asked whether Mr Hide did the right thing in saying he would resign as minister if there were Maori seats, Mr Henare said Mr Hide had "played it silly".

Mr Hide was a "buffoon" and a "jerk-off," he said.

Mr Key said there would be no conscience vote.

"No, that won't be the case, it's a government bill and Cabinet has spoken and we'll be voting along party lines," he told reporters.

"We have a very balanced government -- we have people that come from the right of politics and people that come from the left and inevitably, from time-to-time that will create some tensions."

Mr Key has said Mr Hide's threat to quit was a factor but not a dominant factor in Cabinet's decision.

"Ultimately it's been a long-held view of the National Party that they didn't want to see race-based seats in that second tier of government in New Zealand."

Labour leader Phil Goff said the process had been "a sham consultation".

A sub-committee of the special Auckland council select committee had been asked to look at the issue and Cabinet had made a decision before it had reported back.

"That makes a farce of democracy," Mr Goff said.

Mr Henare's comments showed their were splits between parties and within the National caucus on the issue.

"To get that sort of extravagant language... shows the divisions are deep," Mr Goff said.

Labour may look at amendments to the law as it progressed through Parliament to allow for Maori seats on the proposed council.

"We want to encourage Maori participation and representation within local council in an area where there has been huge under representation."

Labour supported Maori seats elected from the Maori roll and not appointments from local iwi.

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